'Rizzoli & Isles': Sasha Alexander says Jane and Maura will be 'tested'

rizzoli-and-isles-witness.jpgWhen "Rizzoli & Isles" returns to TNT Monday night (Nov. 28), Sasha Alexander's Maura Isles is definitely carrying the more lighthearted end of the story. That won't last.

Alexander tells Zap2it that "it gets darker for Maura as the episodes go," and that by the time the finale airs in December, people may find themselves choosing sides between Maura and Jane Rizzoli ( Angie Harmon).

"You're going to learn a lot of things about her by the time we finish, and when we get to the finale, it's really intense," Alexander says.

We also talked about the chemistry she has with Harmon, how fans perceive the relationship between Jane and Maura and more.

Zap2it: The show seems to have a pretty good sense of how to balance the darker and lighter moments. How do you play it?
Sasha Alexander: It's sort of like a recipe where you throw in a bunch of different flavors, and it clicks. I feel like this season has been a lot about that coming together for all the characters. Tonally speaking, we know where we are. [Executive producer] Janet Tamaro writes that really well. There's a lot of humor, and the crime and the mysteries, they've gotten a lot stronger, and they continue to get stronger as the season goes. ... She's writing the real stuff between people, and the real stuff between people is funny, and then it's dark, and then it's funny, you know? So I think we all try to keep it as real as possible.

What's on the horizon for Maura in these five episodes?
I'm really excited for people to see these next episodes, for a number of reasons. Mostly because the friendship between Maura and Jane really gets tested in some unexpected ways. ... It's dark. I've been very lucky to get to play all these colors. You're going to see a different side to her. It's going to be interesting to see how fans react to the different ways Maura and Jane are tested just at work -- their loyalty to each other, their loyalty to their jobs. They're put in real-life situations. It's not just [a stereotypical situation] of two women being catty. As Janet Tamaro says, they're not fighting about who looks better in a little black dress [laughs].

That's Maura anyway, right?
[Laughs] That's not true. But both women are tested with the people in their lives, their love lives and at work. They're completely different women from every standpoint, but they're equally right about what they're trying to do. So I'm excited for people to see the finale and how it all unravels. Because there's no way you're not going to want to come back in Season 3 and see what happens between these two women. I'm telling you -- there's no way.

Colin Egglesfield returns as Tommy in this run, correct?
Yes. And again, it's the question of what happens if your best friend starts having a little chemistry with your younger, screw-up brother. Where does that go, what does that bring up? It's a really good episode, it's very interesting for him. And you know, he and Maura have a bond. They not only connected immediately, but now they have a deeper connection because he knows her real father is Paddy Doyle. So that's tricky. It's dangerous even to have that information.

Are you and Angie aware of the segment of "Rizzoli & Isles" fandom that's parsing every word and look exchanged between your characters?
Are we aware of it? Sure -- because it's such a big, loving fan base, and it's great to see them tweet dialogue and remember things. They send us incredible gifts. It's amazing. Angie and I get packages all the time -- books and scrapbooks, things they make for us, videos. It's just amazing that people relate to the characters and that they speak to them. I'm really proud of the fact that it's a show [on which] it's women who value women. ... If you put it out into the ether, people are going to interpret what they want. What's important for me is that they watch it, they come back and that they enjoy it.

So Angie and I know about it, but I will not say that it affects our work or how we approach the work. It really doesn't. Angie and I have chemistry -- that's it. Truly, we have shot scenes where we interpret it one way and the camera shows it differently. We have chemistry, and when people have chemistry, it's that magic that film does. We could do a whole scene with our backs to each other, and people are going to say there was a glance or a touch [laughs] -- I'm not kidding. It really is that way.

And that's why I'm really curious to see the women put in this position [of conflict] during these episodes. It deepens any friendship to be in conflict and to disagree with a person you care for. But the disagreements are so deep and so about who these women are that it's going to be interesting to see who takes what side, or who doesn't take a side. ... That's the stuff I love, and I'm really excited we get the opportunity to do it on our show.

"Rizzoli & Isles" airs at 10 p.m. ET Monday on TNT.
Photo/Video credit: TNT
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